United States Marine Charged For ‘Cruel’ Transgender Murder In Phillipines

Philippine prosecutors have charged United States Marine, Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, with the murder of a transgender Filipino on Monday.

Pemberton, a 19 year-old anti-tank missile-man serving with with the United States Marine Corps, has acknowledged attacking Jennifer Laude after he found out she was a transgender. Private Pemberton was arrested in October while taking part in a United States military exercise.

U.S. Marine Murder Charge
U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton is escorted to his detention container [Photo: AP / Aaron Favila]
He met Jennifer Laude in an Olongapo City nightclub and then accompanied her to a nearby hotel. When the skilled boxer and burly U.S. Marine saw Ms. Laude undress, he realized that she was transgender and broke her neck while choking her, before dragging her into the toilet. United States Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose, who went out with Pemberton on the night of the murder, acknowledged that the suspect later confided back at their ship that he attacked Ms. Laude, as reported by Jim Gomez of The Huffington Post.

“I think I killed a he/she.”

Prosecutors recommended murder charges, rather than the lesser offense of homicide, because of the violent, aggressive nature of the attack. Emiline Delos Santos, the chief prosecutor of Olongapo City, said “there was aggravated treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

“Because you have those three aggravating, qualifying circumstances, it is murder. You can see the kind of cruelty she endured, the injuries she sustained.”

The Philippines does not have a jury system and so the fate of Pemberton will be decided by a judge that has the power to sentence the U.S. Marine to up to 40 years in prison, if convicted of the grisly murder.

The Philippines and the United States have recently strengthened ties with the signing of an agreement that allows greater U.S. access to Philippine military camps. Under a joint custody agreement, the United States Marine is being held in a shipping container on a military base in Manila under the watch of American and Filipino guards. Harry Roque, the lawyer representing Laude’s family, welcomed the prosecutors’ ruling but demanded that Pemberton be thrown into an ordinary jail.

“This is not an ordinary murder. This is heinous because she was beaten up.”

In a growing tide of anti-U.S. protests that have been gaining momentum in the Philippines in recent months, activists protested outside the court, denouncing Manila’s new military pact with the United States. This emotional case is likely to test further the military ties between the U.S. and the Philippines.

Private Pemberton has not yet put forward a statement regarding the case and has not appeared at any of the preliminary hearings.

[Image: Sky News]

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